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Women’s rugby revolution - What is the WXV?

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 17: L to R, Captains Manae Feleu of France, Hannah Jones of Wales, Ruahei Demant of New Zealand, Marlie Packer of England, Michaela Leonard of Australia and Sophie de Goede of Canada pose during the WXV1 tournament welcome event at Te Papa on October 17, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

England take on Australia on Friday in their first-ever meeting of the WXV, a new tournament that promises to “revolutionise the women’s international rugby landscape”.


Organisers hope it will act as a “springboard” for the 2025 World Cup, which will be hosted in six venues across England, helping to ensure the expanded 16-team tournament is the most competitive yet.

Here, the PA news agency breaks down how the WXV works.

What is the competition format?

The WXV consists of 18 teams divided into three individual competitions: WXV 1, WXV 2 and WXV 3. The top division, WXV 1, includes the top three Women’s Six Nations finishers and the top three from the cross-regional tournament which includes USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

England, who won their 19th and fifth consecutive Six Nations title in 2023, are in the top tier alongside Australia, Wales, Canada, New Zealand and France.

Scotland, whose tournament started on Friday, play alongside Italy, Japan, South Africa, Samoa and USA in the second-tier WXV 2, while Ireland are in the WXV 3 with Colombia, Fiji, Kazakhstan, Kenya and Spain.

The six teams in each competition are further broken down into two three-team pools and only take on teams in the other pool – a “cross-pool format” – to determine rankings at the end of the tournament. Should teams finish level on points, there are a series of tie-breakers beginning with the result of any matches played between the tied teams.

Is there relegation between the levels?

For at least the inaugural season there will be no relegation from WXV 1, but the bottom WXV 2 side will drop to WXV 3, which will see its top side promoted.

Whoever finishes bottom in WXV 3 will face a play-off with the next-highest side in the World Rugby rankings, with the winner booking a place in WXV 3 the subsequent season.



Last 2 Meetings

Average Points scored
First try wins
Home team wins

How does this affect World Cup qualification?

While England are already assured of 2025 qualification as both tournament hosts and as 2021 World Cup semi-finalists, the 2024 edition of WXV will serve as a final chance for teams who have not managed to qualify by any other regional means, with a minimum of the top-five ranked sides at the end of that tournament also assuring themselves a place.

Because the Red Roses were 2021 World Cup runners-up, there should be six places up for grabs come the end of the 2024 WXV.

Where are the matches taking place?

One innovation of the WXV is that each tier participates in a standalone tournament in a single location over the course of three weeks. The inaugural WXV will be hosted across New Zealand, with Cape Town welcoming the WXV 2 and Dubai the WXV 3.

There are some obvious advantages to this format. As women’s rugby aims to narrow the gap between its historically dominant nations – some of whom in recent years have turned fully-professional – and those who are still catching up, guaranteeing at least three Tests per year against competition performing at a similar level is a welcome prospect.

So, too, will be the decision to host each competition in a single location, allowing teams to maximise their long-distance travel rather than flying across the world to meet just a single opponent.


The “event”-like nature of the tournaments and rotating hosts should also allow organisers to capitalise on regional excitement and enthusiasm and, ideally, bring more women’s rugby fans into the fold.

Will it be aired?

ITV will air all three England and Wales matches on ITVX, with S4C also showing the Wales games. You can also watch live on RugbyPass TV.

Women's XV 1
England Women's
42 - 7
Australia Women's
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Shaylen 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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Jon 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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